Napster co-founder gives $24 million to launch allergy research center at Stanford

The new center will aim to help researchers better understand all types of allergic conditions and develop lasting cures for them.

Sean Parker

Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker announced today that he is donating $24 million to establish an allergy research center at the School of Medicine. The center will build on years of work by Stanford scientists to understand all types of allergies, which affect 30-40 percent of the global population.

Immunologist Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD, will lead the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford University. An associate professor of pediatrics, Nadeau will guide the center’s efforts to understand the underlying mechanisms of allergies in children and adults and to develop lasting allergy cures.

Nadeau has led the field in developing oral immunotherapy to combat severe food allergies, a treatment in which patients consume tiny but gradually increasing doses of their allergy triggers under a doctor’s supervision. The center’s researchers will continue to investigate food allergies, as well as to conduct studies of other allergic conditions, such as drug allergies and reactions to environmental allergens. Parker, who co-founded the Internet file-sharing service Napster and served as the first president of Facebook, has a personal interest in the topic because of his own experience with severe food allergies.

“We are excited about the center because there is enormous clinical need for better understanding of and treatment for allergies,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, in a press release announcing the donation. “For instance, the recent profound increase in the incidence of serious food allergy is fascinating and deeply concerning at the same time. Sean Parker’s generous gift will enable Stanford Medicine experts, under Dr. Nadeau’s leadership, to collaborate and innovate across academic disciplines for the benefit of millions of people with allergies.”

“I am thrilled and honored to direct the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford University,” Nadeau said in the release. “Sean is well-versed in immunology, and has been a fantastic partner to work with. He’s an entrepreneur and visionary, and we look forward to using this gift and center as the springboard to improve the lives of those adults with allergies through immunotherapy that goes beyond oral therapy.”

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